West Hartford residents have reported sightings of bald eagles over the past several weeks.
By Ronni Newton
A nest has not yet been located, but over the past several weeks many West Hartford residents have reported seeing bald eagles perched in trees and flying throughout town.
The eagle sightings have been in various parts of town – the reservoir, Mountain Road, Overbrook Road, Newport Avenue, Griswold Drive – and several residents have been able to capture photos or videos of the majestic birds, which since 1782 have served as the country’s national emblem.
“I have heard rumors that eagles have been seen around and near the Wood Pond section of West Hartford – near Ridgewood Road and Tunxis Road,” said Mona Cavallero, a member of the Audubon Society who was one of the first to spot the red-tailed hawk nesting on the Delamar Hotel construction site last summer. Although Cavallero has not personally seen an eagle in town, she has friends who have spotted them in the Wood Pond/Woodridge Lake area.
Wildlife Biologist Brian Hess of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it’s “very possible” that there could be a nest in West Hartford.
Eagles like tall trees that are near bodies of water, Hess said, and that environment exists in West Hartford, especially near the reservoir and Woodridge Lake. “We don’t have records of a nest in West Hartford, but there are reports of eagles. I would expect we would sooner or later find a nest,” he said.
Hess said that the eagle population in Connecticut has continued to expand, with eagles of all ages and 50 confirmed nests now in the state.
Cavallero said that just a few decades ago, there were less than 19 bald eagle nests in Connecticut. Most are located along the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. “They are doing very well in our state and it is not uncommon to see them now.”
According to the DEEP, the bald eagle is no longer an endangered species, but is still classified as “threatened” in the lower 48 states. Eagles are still protected by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Hess said he would be very interested in hearing reports about eagles carrying sticks, or a pair of adult eagles being seen in the same spot on a consistent basis, as well as any other verifiable sightings. Reports can be made to Brian Hess at [email protected].
Both Hess and Cavallero caution that it is against the law to get too close to an eagle nest, and doing so might cause the eagles to abandon their eggs or chicks. Known/active sites may have warning signs posted by the DEEP.
Cavallero said that the eagles seen in West Hartford could be coming from nests confirmed along the Connecticut River, from Enfield to Guilford. Nearby nests have been verified in Hartford and Rocky Hill. Cavallero said that when she and East Hampton resident Mike Berzenski were observing the red-tailed hawk at the Delamar Hotel site last year, they saw a bald eagle pass over the area.
For those who want to see eagles and other wildlife, RiverQuest in Haddam offers cruises with views of eagle and osprey nests – a nice way to view them and enjoy a boat ride, too,” Cavallero said.
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